RUGBY UNION: Andrew craves a little time

Hugh Bateson sees the Wasps player sidestep a scrum of probing reporters
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The Independent Online
Wasps 38 Saracens 16

Rob Andrew showed all the traditional stand-off's skills on Saturday: feint, shimmy, side-step and swerve, and that was to just to reach his car. As he reflected, if he ever found the time, on a day on which every move he made from parking his car two hours before the game to his departure for Newcastle shortly after it, was devoured by TV and press, he must have thought that it was far simpler being Rob Andrew than Kevin Keegan.

But that is who he is now or so Sir John Hall would have us believe and, as he paying pounds 750,000 for the England stand-off, he is probably entitled to call him whatever he wants. Andrew himself, in true football manager tradition, is pleading for time and space to settle into his new role and also in true football tradition he will be lucky to find either.

Pinned down as he tried to make his getaway, he resignedly gave the same answers to the same questions as he had done 48 hours earlier at the announcement of his appointment as Newcastle's director of rugby development. He has already developed the Kenny Dalglish disingenuous answer. Asked if he had started thinking about player recruitment, a huge grin was followed by "I think about it all the time." But what of his immediate plans? "I'm off to the airport." And he was.

If he thought it bizarre that rugby's transfer rules mean for the next four months he is expected to give full playing commitment to one club while managing another, he gave no sign of it, and neither did his captain at Wasps, Dean Ryan, or the coach, Rob Smith. "He's a friend of us all and he has had a major success in his life, so we are all very happy for him," Smith said.

Realists both, the pair are fully aware of the vulnerability of players, their own and everyone else's, to any offers which may come along, and Ryan says the chaos ahead can be avoided only by speedy and decisive action.

"The RFU have got to act very quickly if they want to maintain control of the top players. In a few months we will be playing against people who are making pounds 40,000-pounds 50,000 because they are England players. It isn't stabilising for rugby. Every player is vulnerable, because there isn't a choice. If the money is big enough there is no choice."

Wasps are keen to have Andrew available for the next nine League games, during which they will hope to recover the precise handling and running of last season. Three tries in the last eight minutes put a false gloss on a sloppy performance in which they kept hurtling down one blind alley after another. For Saracens, the day showed that their own game is developing nicely from what was enough to win the Second Division by a street last season. Like Andrew, they crave a little time, not a possibility in rugby's harsh new world.

Wasps: Tries Scrivener, D Hopley, Ryan, White; Conversions Andrew 3; Penalties Andrew 2; Drop goals Ufton 2. Saracens: Try Tunningley; Conversion Tunningley; Penalties Tunningley 3.

Wasps: J Ufton; P Hopley, D Hopley, A James, S Roiser; R Andrew, S Bates; N Popplewell, K Dunn, I Dunston, M Greenwood, D Ryan (capt), L Dallaglio, P Scrivener, M White.

Saracens: A Tunningley; P Harries, J Buckton, S Ravenscroft, P Butler; A Lee, B Davies (capt); G Holmes, G Botterman, S Wilson, M Langley, M Burrow, A Metcalfe, A Diprose, R Hill.

Referee: G Borreani (France).